As legislative session winds down, survivors pushing for changes to MA dangerousness law

BOSTON, Mass. — At the Massachusetts State House a group of domestic violence and sex abuse survivors is walking the halls, going to door to door, meeting with legislators, urging them to pass a bill they believe could save lives.

Governor Charlie Baker, in his final days in office, is pushing to expand the state’s dangerousness law. He’s traveled the state holding roundtables on the issue.

His bill would give judges more leeway to declare someone dangerous, thus allowing the courts to hold more suspects without bail, before trial.

One woman who is speaking to lawmakers is Michelle Linn of Barnstable.

“About 30 years ago, I was raped, actually on the Cape,” Linn said.

Michelle Linn tells me when she was assaulted, the man who attacked her was free on two thousand dollars bail, awaiting trial for another rape.

“This (bill) is about bad, dangerous people. And not allowing them to continue harming others,” Linn said.

Another person knocking on doors at the State House is a man named Jim.

“Myself, and my siblings were adopted. And we were abused physically and sexually for a lot of years,” Jim said.

Jim is telling his story for the very first time.

He says when his abuser, his own adoptive father was released on bail ahead of trial, instead of being held, he tried to contact him.

“I was in a program but he still knew where I was, so he could have gotten to me.  That was scary,” Jim said.

The Governor’s bill also upgrades the offense of cutting a GPS monitoring device from a misdemeanor to a felony.

Abuse victim Jo tells me her abuser cut off his GPS, and was never punished for it.

“It really empowered him, rather than make me safe. It took a dangerous man and made him more dangerous by allowing him to cut off a GPS,” Jo said.

Right now, the Judiciary Committee has this bill. If this bill is to survive, it must pass that committee by June 30th.

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